Paris is a two-act musical theater piece written by Hudson Owen, Bowden Simmons and Nicholas Cieri. Other than a workshop production, it is unproduced. We welcome inquiries from anyone interested in producing or aiding in the production, performance or promotion of this work. At the end are three mp3 songs from the show for your listening pleasure. The WordPress player gives them comical titles.

Overview

Before television, rock stars and the bomb, there were writers, painters and composers who, driven by Prohibition and lured by the cheap franc, traveled from America to Paris in the 1920’s where they lived and worked, dominating the local scene and making an important contribution to the Modernist revolution in the arts. Frequently America was their subject. By the end of 1929, after the stock market crash, most of them came home.

This is their story.

You will meet the young Ernest Hemingway, sharpening his pencils at sidewalk cafes and working on the short stories that made him famous, ever ready to administer a boxing lesson to the literati; Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, who battle alcohol and each other on the way from one party to another; Robert McAlmon, writer and editor, who put into print the early efforts of expatriate authors.

You will sit in on a soireé with the funny and imperious Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas; join the avant-garde in the street struggling over who will lead in the sometimes violent game of Modern Art; drop in on the legendary Bricktop in her restaurant and hear the latest songs; listen to the plight of a Russian nobleman fired from his job as dishwasher in a fancy hotel.

The narrative follows the fortunes of original characters Robert and Louise Harper, who travel from New York to Paris in 1926. Act 1 focuses on Robert’s efforts to make it as a young fiction author in the expatriate community. At the end of the act Louise announces that she is not content with being a “writer’s wife” and wants to become a writer herself. So at intermission we are left with the question what will happen.

In Act 2 Louise becomes the Paris correspondent for the new The New Yorker, and tension develops in the marriage as she strikes out on her own in the free Paris air. The couple becomes estranged and Robert prepares to leave Paris alone as the era winds down. Events come to a happy conclusion in the final scene as Louise joins Robert on the train platform to begin the voyage home.

Character Breakdown

NARRATOR – older gentleman, Maurice Chevalier type

ROBERT HARPER – leading man, early 20s, tenor

LOUISE HARPER – leading lady, early 20s, soprano

ROBERT MCALMON – sardonic, medium build, late 20s, tenor

ERNEST HEMINGWAY – athletic, large build, mid-20s, tenor

SYLVIA BEACH – modest yet spirited, late 30s, soprano

GERTRUDE STEIN – grand dame, large build, early 50s,
soprano

T.S. ELIOT – aesthete, mid-30s, tenor

F. SCOTT FITZGERALD – high strung, medium build, late
20s, tenor

ZELDA FITZGERALD – femme fatale, slender, mid-20s,
soprano

MADAME SELECT – tough older café owner, does not sing

ANDRÉ BRETON – aloof art theoretician, late 20s, does not
sing

TRISTAN TZARA – firebrand art radical, late-20s, does not
sing

ALICE B. TOKLAS – submissive, slender, 40s, does not sing

BRICKTOP – spunky black singer, early 30s, soprano

BOOKSELLER – older gentleman, tenor

PLONGEUR (DISHWASHER) – older Russian nobleman, tenor/
baritone

A cast of a dozen actors, with many filling one principal and one or two minor roles, can do the job. For example, the actor who is principally Scott Fitzgerald can also play Robert McAlmon and André Breton. The actress who plays Zelda can also play Sylvia Beach and Alice B. Toklas. The Gertrude Stein actress will double nicely as Madame Select.

Likewise, the Narrator is available for additional roles such as the Bookseller. The Narrator provides word pictures of scenes that may not be feasible to construct in a low budget production and provides information that might be useful to the audience in this wide-ranging story, as well as being a convivial stage presence.

The decision as to which historical figures to include in the play is, of course, subjective. There are hundreds of characters to choose from. In a longer version of the script, Picasso appears in two scenes in Act 2, Hart Crane becomes a character instead of gossip, and James Joyce is a flesh and blood character.

Songs

Act 1

Bonjour (waltz)
Parisian Couple

They Never Said A Word (tango)
Robert, Louise, McAlmon, Sylvia, Hemingway

We Are Young Lions (march)
Robert, T.S. Eliot, Hemingway

A Book Is A Very Good Friend
Bookseller

Let The World Go By
Robert and Louise

Song of The Poor Plongeur
Plongeur

Kick Off Your Shoes, Louise (can-can)
Louise

Act 2

I Am Parisienne (dance number)
Louise, Gentleman Dancers

The Twentieth Century Rag (tap)
Robert, Hemingway

A Nose Is A Nose Is A Nose
Robert, Louise, Gertrude, Alice, Hemingway

Café Au Lait
Bricktop

I’ll Take You To Heaven (dance number)
Bricktop

Gold Hat Lover (bunny hug)
Scott and Zelda

It’s Raining In Paris (beguine)
Robert

Au Revoir
Cast

ABOUT THE AUTHORS

HUDSON OWEN is the author of Harly, a one act play produced in Manhattan by P.A.S. Artists Group. The End of The Modern World was given a staged reading at Dixon Place, Manhattan. He attended the Roger Hendricks Simon Studio on Theatre Row and the 92nd Street Y Playwrighting Workshop. His poems and essays have appeared in a number of publications. He has acted in New York City.

NICHOLAS CIERI began his theatrical career as a singer. He performed at the Riveria and sang lead with The Overtones. He is co-author of the musical Born To Sing, about the life of Judy Garland, showcased at the Harry Warran Theatre in Brooklyn.

BOWDEN SIMMONS is a graduate of the Wilmington Music School, in Delaware, and has drawn cartoons commercially. She has two theatrical daughters.

Songs:
Gold Hat Lover, Café Au Lait, We Are Young Lions

song5mpsong4mpsong2mp

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